Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Interdisciplinary Studies

First Advisor

Wadsworth, John S

First Committee Member

Clark, M Kathy

Second Committee Member

Hollingworth, Liz

Third Committee Member

Lovaglia, Michael

Fourth Committee Member

Moser, David


The purpose of this study was to explore the academic researcher decision-making processes related to participant compensation. Compensation for research participants is a complex issue nested within human subjects research, involving potential ethical pitfalls, such as undue influence and coercion. Regulations require researchers possess sufficient understanding of their subject population to make informed decisions with respect to compensation issues. Despite the key role compensation practices play in the research process, few researchers have considered these practices from the perspective of the academic researcher.

The researcher collected data via semi-structured interviews to understand factors academic researcher consider when electing to compensate or not compensate research participants, the ethical challenges faced by academic researchers when determining research compensation for their studies, and, from the perspective of academic researchers, how compensation practices be improved.

Compensation is an integral part of human subjects research, but it involves ethical considerations due to its potential impact on the participant’s voluntarism. Researcher decision making about compensation is complex and is influenced by myriad factors, including budgetary constraints, the type of study, perceptions of participant burden, institutional and departmental factors, and more. This study expanded the understanding of participant compensation by exploring the researcher decision-making processes.


ix, 187 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 156-170).


Copyright © 2019 Kathleen Marie Beck